The under-construction Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project is the lifeline of north Telangana, Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao said was quoted as saying by Indian Express. Two weeks ago, seven workers were killed when the roof of a tunnel partially collapsed in the project site. Rao said the project would transform the targeted 13 districts, which are often prone to drought-like conditions and water scarcity.
Telangana is investing heavily in irrigation and drinking water projects to tackle the long dry spell and drought-like conditions in some parts of the state. Recently, the government had reduced kharif crop production estimates for 2017-18 by 54%.
The Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, being built at Rs 80,000 crore, is one of the country’s biggest water projects. It envisages building three barrages across the Godavari, harnessing 160-180 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) floodwater during June-October, and routing it — through a system of gravity canals, pipelines and tunnels, lifts and pump-houses — to 20 reservoirs that are being excavated for a total storage capacity of 145 TMC. From the reservoirs will spread a network of canals across the 13 districts.
On June 7, the Telangana government’s Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project had suffered a setback as the National Green Tribunal sought answers from the Centre and two state governments about the scheme’s environmental and other clearances. Responding to a plea challenging the construction of the project, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Telangana and Maharashtra governments, the Central Water Commission, the state pollution control boards of the two states and others. The green panel has sought a reply from all the parties within two weeks asking why construction activities for the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme should not be stopped until the mandatory statutory clearances including Environment and Forest clearances were granted.